BRUSSELS/SUVA,FIJI- APRIL 20,2021 (PIFS/PACNEWS): A new Partnership Agreement between the members of the Organisation of African, Caribbean, and Pacific States (OACPS), and the European Union (EU) was initialled by the chief negotiators last week in Brussels, Belgium.
Professor Robert Dussey, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Togo, and Jutta Urpilainen, European Commissioner for International Partnerships initialled the text on behalf of the OACPS and the EU, respectively.
Thuli Dladla of Eswatini spoke for the Africa region; Senator Kamina Johnson Smith spoke for the Caribbean region; and Ambassador Fatumanava III Dr Pa’olelei Luteru spoke for the Pacific region on behalf of the Prime Minister of Samoa,Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi, as the lead on the OACPS Central Negotiating Group.
The initialling ceremony officially ends the post-Cotonou negotiations, launched in 2018 between the 27 States of the EU and the 79 States of the OACPS.
Ambassador Luteru expressed the hope that the new Agreement “will play a catalytic and pivotal role in our collective journey to prosperity, peace and a safe planet for all to live and flourish and where no one is left behind.” He called for immediate engagement between the Parties to ensure clarity around the implementation modalities, and where possible to “reset priorities based on existing challenges and realities”, brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic. The focus on leaving no one behind and assisting the vulnerable received special mention.
On the Pacific Regional Protocol, Ambassador Luteru highlighted that the agreed texts are “flexible enough in its construction to take on board the long-term issues and priorities that may arise during the life of the new Agreement.” He further acknowledged that the priorities as articulated by the Pacific Leaders constituted the core pillars of the Pacific Regional Protocol.
Ambassador Luteru concluded his remarks by congratulating the EU and the OACPS negotiators for their commitment and hard work, and called on the Parties to begin engagement on preparations for the signing ceremony to take place in Apia, Samoa towards the end of 2021.
The Chair of the Pacific ACP States, the Prime Minister of Tuvalu, Kausea Natano says the initialling moment today “setting in place a 20-year development partnership between the largest bloc within the United Nations family, and the European Union, is a major achievement for our developing Pacific nations at the international level. Each and every Pacific, Caribbean, African and European negotiator can take pride in this moment. The end of the negotiations is a key step in strengthening our partnerships that build on regionally determined priorities and support Pacific Leaders’ vision of a region of peace, harmony, security, social inclusion and prosperity.
“The new Partnership Agreement builds on the previous Lomé Conventions and the Cotonou Partnership Agreement, and charts a strengthened political partnership between the Parties to generate mutually beneficial outcomes on common and intersecting interests and in accordance with their shared values,” he said. “With Pacific nations accounting for 15 members of the OACPS, I fully acknowledge the work of our negotiators and Pacific leaders and ministers who’ve brought us to this point as we progress towards signature of the new agreement in Samoa, later this year.”
Pacific Islands Forum Secretary General Dame Meg Taylor also thanked the negotiators, ambassadors and the Pacific delegations, including the technical agencies, who have played a role in shaping the contents of the new OACPS-EU Partnership Agreement.
“Our Pacific Leaders can indeed be proud that the new agreement ensures specific cooperation across Pacific priorities in environmental sustainability and climate change, security, economic development and all the way to oceans, seas and fisheries, and human and social development. As a Secretariat, we are acutely aware of the importance of the resourcing and sustainable aspects of these development partnerships for our members and continue to stand ready to assist with these priorities.”
The initialled text will now be translated into the official languages of the EU, as the parties prepare for its signature towards the end of 2021, in Samoa. ….